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FAQs about Physical/Mechanical Filtration for Marine Systems

Related Articles: Marine Filtration, Mechanical, Physical & Chemical, Protein Skimmer Impressions By Steven Pro, Power Filter Impressions,  A review of some popular mechanical filtration systems by Steven Pro ,

Related FAQs: Ozone & Ozonizers, Ultraviolet Sterilizers, Wet Dry Filters, Best Skimmer Selection FAQs, Best Skimmer Op./Maint. FAQs, Protein Skimmers, Skimmer Op/Maint., DIY Skimmers

Emperor 400 power filter & a wet/dry filter -- 10/07/11
<And gals Dan>
I would like to know if I could use an Emperor 400 power filter in conjunction with a wet/dry filter.
<Mmm, yes>
I have a wet/dry filter under my 55 gallon saltwater aquarium. This tank has been setup for 4 weeks and I have a Emperor 400 power filter that I was using before I got the wet/dry filter. Would this be overkill?
<Not at all; no>
I understand that the wet/dry filter does not provide any mechanical filtration.
<Mmm, can be fitted w/ a sock, other media... Please see here re the first:
I was thinking of using both filters on my tank and wanted to know what you guys thought.
<The more the better really. The increased/redundant biofiltration, circulation are very worthwhile>
I also have about 40lbs if live rock in the aquarium with a couple of
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Weight of hang-on items on tank   8/15/11
Good morning,
Searched this and couldn't find a definitive answer so here goes! I have a standard 6', 125 gallon AGA. My fears are probably unfounded, but I was wondering is a HOB 4 gallon refugium and 2 Aqua C Remora Pros too much weight, evenly spaced, across the back of the tank?
<Will be fine. Seems a bunch of weight I realize, but have hung MUCH more than this... even, Oof! climbed on the edges of such aquariums>
Thanks in advance for your answers and time, I truly treasure this website and look forward to reading it's contents daily.
Sincere thanks,
<Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Physical Filtration and Water Quality Parameters/Vitamins 6/1/2011
Hi Bob and Crew,
<Hello Rob>
First thanks for all you do! This is the best site for any hobby I have ever seen and/or used. You guys are awesome!
<Thank you for your kind words.>
So, I have a 54 corner bowfront reef tank and I have 2 questions. I have a Remora Pro HOB protein skimmer with a Mag-3 pump. I created a box for it to try to make it an overflow (picture attached). It doesn't actually function as an overflow most of the time because its too hard to regulate the water level and flow but it does at least take water from the top one inch and does skim the surface when the water level drops.. My tank was overheating due to my lighting (outer orbit 150W 10000K and 4 26W T-5 Fluorescents) so I got rid of the glass canopy and replaced it with an egg crate top I made (photo also included).
<Nice job but the egg crate will reduce light intensity but may not be a problem in your system.>
Solved my heat problem but I lose about a gallon of water a day, but I figure its worth it not to have to buy a chiller I can't afford and have no place to keep. As you can see in the picture. I keep a nylon mesh bag of activated carbon in the overflow box which gets rinsed every 2 weeks and replaced every month. The filter bag seems to catch a lot of brown stuff, which I assume are diatoms. Last week when I replaced the bag I put a Poly-filter I cut to size underneath it. I had never used one of these but had read the FAQs and other material and it seemed like a good idea. Within a week the poly-filter was also completely brown.
<Brown indicates waste absorption.>
It didn't turn any odd colors so I don't think it took out anything that wasn't supposed to be there. My tank did look crystal clear though, so I assume there was a good bit of physical filtration going on. So here is the question is it worthwhile putting a Poly-filter in to remove impurities?
I used RO water with Instant Ocean Reef Crystals bought at my LFS and my make up water is RO water. If there is no benefit to the Poly-filter should I use a less expensive physical filter material to scrub the water or is it better to have the diatoms and other little critters and plants floating around in there as a food supply for things? The clarity with the filter was nice but its not that big a difference I care.
<The Poly-Filter is more a chemical filtration media and in the location it is in, it does little in the way of mechanical filtration as water is not passing directly through it.
From a savings standpoint, it's not necessary to use both carbon and a Poly-Filter, one or the other can be eliminated. If I were to use a chemical filtration media on a continuous basis, my choice would be to employ just the Poly-Filter. I also suggest reading here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chemFiltrMar.htm>
And for my second question, I have read all the FAQs on here and in other places about peoples feelings about testing for/adding trace elements, vitamins, etc. Obviously testing the basics like Specific gravity, temperature, pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, KH, and Calcium seem to be givens and adjustments should be made based on the tests. But with regard to trace minerals like iodine, iron, magnesium and strontium (assuming silicates and phosphates are non issues due to my use of RO water) should I be testing these or just assume (dangerous I know) that regular water changes will keep these particular minerals where they should be?
<With calcium loving animals, both calcium and magnesium should be monitored.>
Also with regard to vitamins are there any specific issues that require their use that you are aware of? I am a veterinarian and basically what I have always been taught about nutrition in any species is that if you feed a varied diet with adequate nutritional value you likely do not need supplementation.
<More can be said here than I have the time to do.
Thank you for all the help and direction! I hope these are questions (and answers) others find useful too.
<You're welcome, and yes, queries are posted daily for all others to read.
James (Salty Dog)>
In your debt,

Bio wheels, Anemone Systems 4/19/10
I am currently running a bio wheel but I want to remove it from my system.
I have a good amount of live rock so I was wondering if there is a safe way to remove the bio wheel from my system without causing an ammonia spike.
<If there is sufficient live rock it should not be an issue, just monitor closely and be ready for water changes.>
The occupants of my system are 1 golden headed goby, 1 clarkii clown fish, four snails, three hermit crabs, and I was recently given a green tipped bubble tip anemone. I am mainly concerned about the anemone he is finally settled in and happy and I don't want to shock him with an ammonia spike. Also I run two 24" t5 actinics and two 24" t8 10000k's on my 29 gallon tank should this anemone be ok under this light he seems happy and doesn't move around.
thank you for any advice.
<This is a small tank for an anemone. See here for more
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/bubbletipanemones.htm .>
Re: Bio wheels, Anemone Systems 4/20/10
Thank you for the advice when my uncle get his 125gallon tank up and going I will give it to him but that could be about a year because it will be a new set up. He does not move or shrivel up so I think he is happy will he be all right with the lighting I listed, it was two 24" actinic t5's and two 10000k t8's on my 29 gallon tank.
<Hopefully, but stability will still be an issue.>
My local fish store has minimal water movement and virtually no lighting so I don't want to take him there I'm
sure it would be a death sentence.
<Most stores are only set up to house anything on a temporary basis.>
I would like to keep him as healthy as possible until my uncles system is stable enough to take him. thank you.

bio wheels, removal   - 4/19/10
I cant find any info on whether or not it would be safe for me to just remove my bio wheel from my set up now that I have live rock and a skimmer, is there a way to do this without an amonia spike. my water conditions are ph 8.3 salinity is 1.023 alk is 9.5 nit 0 amonia 0 nitrate is 5. I was given an anemone a green tiped bta and I dont want to shock him now that he is doing well and settled into a peice of rock. my tank is a 29 gallon with eclipse hood I have two 24" t5's that run actinics and two 24" t8's that run 10k bulbs. thanks for any advice z.
<Please correct the spelling/ grammar and re-send Zachary, we will be only to happy to help.
bio wheels
<<Simon, I went ahead and responded to Z as I suspect s/he is not a native speaker/writer of English. RMF>>
I cant find any info on whether or not it would be safe for me to just remove my bio wheel from my set up now that I have live rock and a skimmer,
<Should be fine to simply remove this device in your established system. It is highly unlikely you'll observe such a spike>
is there a way to do this without an ammonia spike. my water conditions are ph 8.3 salinity is 1.023
<Mmm, I'd raise this. See WWM re: http://wetwebmedia.com/spg_salinity.htm
and the linked files above...>
Alk is 9.5 nit 0 ammonia 0 nitrate is 5. I was given an anemone a green tipped BTA and I dont want to shock him now that he is doing well and settled into a piece of rock. my tank is a 29 gallon with eclipse hood I have two 24" t5's that run actinics and two 24" t8's that run
10k bulbs. thanks for any advice z.
<Please read re Entacmaea period as well:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Physical Filtration Question/Power Filters 9/3/09
Dear Crew,
Thank you so much for all your time and effort answering questions on this website, I have learned so much through your forums.
<You're welcome.>
I have a 125G FOWLR that I ultimately want to turn into a reef tank. I have about 80 pounds of live rock looking to get another 40 over the next few months. I currently have a Marineland Emperor 280 Power Filter that I am using for the physical filtration. I don't use the bio-wheel. I have read that Power Filters are generally not good for reef tanks. First question is why?
<If the mechanical media is changed/cleaned weekly, they are not a problem at all, I use one and replace the disposable pad weekly.>
I also have a SeaClone 100 skimmer. I have heard that these skimmer's are not highly rated. Mine produces about a half cup of skimmate a day. I will upgrade that to the Aqua C Remora eventually and perhaps run both skimmers.
<The Remora isn't going to efficiently handle a 125 gallon tank, I would go with the EV120 or larger.>
My second question is, if the Power Filters are not recommended, do you recommend another option for physical filtration? What about a HOB refugium or would the two skimmers and live rock with water changes be enough?
<A refugium is always a plus, with or without using a power filter. The live rock will take care of the nitrogen cycle, and an efficient skimmer, sized properly, should take care of dissolved nutrients providing your tank is not overstocked.>
I have been having a bit of an outbreak of hair algae, and from what I have researched some Bryopsis. I bought a Lawnmower Blenny and some scarlet hermit crabs to help combat. Ammonia, Nitrites at zero, Nitrate at ~15.
<A little high here promoting nuisance algae.>
Phosphate currently says it is at 0, although before the water change it was closer to .25ppm. From what I have read the phosphate could be at zero due to the algae absorbing it.
<Yes, can happen.>
Also, calcium is running between 380-400. Lighting should be fine here, just bought an Outer Orbit with Metal Halide and Actinics, display model that listed for $1300, got it for $350, one of the best bargains I have ever found.
<A bargain indeed.>
Based on this information, do you think it is ok to start with any corrals <corals> and are there any hardy ones that you would recommend?
<As long as you have compatible animals in the tank, yes. As for corals, many of the soft corals are hardy and good beginner corals. Do read here and related articles.
Thanks for all your help in advance.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Physical Filtration Question/Power Filters 9/3/09
Thanks for all the replies Salty Dog.
<You're welcome, Dave.>
I was thinking the Hang On Aqua C Remora Pro, rated up to 120G should get me to where I need to be from a skimming standpoint. It looks like the EV 120 is an in sump skimmer, sadly I don't have a sump.
<The 120 figure would be the max, and in my opinion, in a lightly stocked tank. Recalling my words..."will not efficiently".....
Reef tanks do require very good water conditions, and if it were me, I would seriously consider buying a sump which will help provide this condition, and a home for a good skimmer. Hang-on skimmers scare me,
as there is always a chance for water getting on the carpet/floor and having an angry wife on your hands. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Physical Filtration Question/Power Filters 9/4/09
Good point on the angry wife, I already stained the carpet mixing up the saltwater for a water change.
<Yes, I've learned not to do anything with my tank while my wife is home.
I recall changing tanks a few years back in the Family Room, and throughout the entire process, she was
on patrol, making me nervous.
Mmmm, I should write an article on this subject but I don't believe Bob has a category for such.>
<<We'll make one. RMF>>
Thanks for the info.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: new to reef tanks: Flow Question And Stocking Level 2/18/09 >> <How to things look with just using the Penguin for water movement?> Pretty good, however, the Penguin and the skimmer both shoot water to the front of the tank AND because of the real estate they take up and where they must be placed I think I would benefit from a power-head or something angled towards the middle of the tank at a lower water level to go 'under' the current and flow of the Penguin...the opposite corner of the tank where the skimmer is has very slow movement (at least by viewing the surface). The rub is that it appears that the Penguin shoots a ton of bubbles out from the surface agitation with the Bio-Wheel in, which then just gets worse as those bubbles get chopped up by the powerhead, the skimmer and the intake of the HOB. When I remove the Bio-wheel from the HOB this stops, but I want to make sure that I am not potentially setting myself up for a crash by removing it (just the wheel itself). <The bacteria on the live rock should take care of your nitrogen cycle so removal of the wheel should cause no problem. James (Salty Dog)>

Power filter Necessary 2/15/09 Little background, have been doing reef tanks for years, sold the 55 a few years ago cause I had to travel. Went ahead and bought a 20 gallon tank for my 5 yr old daughter to put Nemo in. Well, I couldn't just be happy with this, so I added 35 lbs live rock, 40 live sand and the biggest protein skimmer I could fit on the back, I don't remember the brand, been about a year, Aqua pro, I think, here is pick http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o122/gunzen31/DSC00180.jpg Anyway, I have proper lighting for my easy corals, Zoanthids mushrooms etc, Three fish, some small hermits, a crab and banded shrimp, two snails and a starfish. Tank has been fine, but I had a small Hagen power filter in the back and it burned out. What would be a good sized hang on filter for the back? what size? And is it even necessary. Seems fine so far, but I could use a little more crud removed right? How important is carbon? and will a power filter add nitrates? <A power filter is not necessary with your current filtration setup. If you run one at all the only benefit will be to run carbon and maybe a bit of mechanical filtration. That being said, carbon is not a necessity. In a 20 gallon tank you can have the same effect with small frequent water changes, something that should be done anyhow. The power filters can contribute to nitrate if detritus is allowed to buildup in the filter.> Anyway, I hay add a few more mushrooms, but this tank seems fine as is, with the skimmer I think it is not too crowded here is a pic http://s119.photobucket.com/albums/o122/gunzen31/?action=view&current=DSC00392-1.jpg Power filter, yes or no? <I personally would not bother here.> Thanks, and don't worry, I wont put too much stuff, I like to keep it overfiltered and skimmed. thanks again. <Sounds good, welcome, Scott V.>

Combined UV And Ozone Use 1/22/09 I just bought a UV filter. I have an ozonifier and I want to use both. What is your advice on doing so? <There are folks who use both, but do read here, then decide. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm If I had to make a choice, I would use ozone incorporated with an ozone safe protein skimmer. This, in my opinion, will give you better water quality by way of increased Redox potential and increasing the efficiency of the protein skimmer. Do read the above link. James (Salty Dog)> MN.

Power Filters  1/11/09 Hello, <Hello John, Minh at your service.> I will keep this brief as I know you are all quite busy. I purchased a complete 55 gallon marine system. <Congratulations on the purchase of a new tank.> I am wanting to get rid of the Fluval 404 canister as it is just a joke. I am using 50 pounds of live rock for bio filtration and need to add chemical and mechanical filtration. I am planning a FOWLR tank not a reef and want to know if using a Rena Smartfilter 55, or similar, will provide enough mechanical and chemical filtration. Perhaps 2 of Rena's would be better. <If you do not want to use the Fluval 404 due to its quality and construction, then there are other highly regarded canister filters available such as the Eheim series. Obviously, there are some advantages to using a canister filter over a hang-on-back power filter such as larger media capacity, less visible equipment and generally higher filtration capability. However, if you wish not to use a canister filter at all then one or two of the Rena Smartfilter 55 should be sufficient. Another highly regarded power filter is the Hagen Aqua Clear. The bio-load or number and size of fish in your tank will dictate how many filters that will be required to maintain water quality.> Thanks in advance! John <You're welcome. Cheers, Minh Huynh.>

Re: Power Filters ATTN Minh  ~ 01/12/09 Minh, Thanks for the reply! I wanted to give a little more info about my system so I can help you help me. I was a little vague in the first email. <Glad to be of service, John.> My new system, which was purchased second hand, is a standard 55 gallon tank. This is my 3rd tank in 3 years and I have done nothing to it without researching on WWM. <Congratulations on your progression in the hobby.> It came with a Fluval 404, and a Magnum 303 canisters. I tried both and was not impressed with either. It also came with an Aquatech power filter for 55 gallon tanks. This filter is junk too but it is running my chemical filtration so for now it stays. For skimmers it came with a Bak Pak 2r that was stuffed to the gills with bio balls. The bio balls went bye bye and in their place I put in a little pile of live rock and some Chaeto. <Great idea, I would have advised for you to do the same.> It also had one of those Instant Ocean Cyclone skimmers. I am using both and they both are working alright. The previous user had some non-buffering substrate and I got rid of that in place of a deep sugar fine sand bed. For power heads I am going to be purchasing 2 Koralia 1's. For lighting I have a custom made hood that has 4 - 40 watt fluorescent tubes. Actually is a lot brighter than I thought it would be. <A fine choice for a FOWLR tank but obviously, a bit more attention need to be given to the way the fluorescent tubes are driven and reflected as you will inevitably cross over to the reef realm.> OK so the critical components here are my stocking habits. As I said before I am a WWM advocate and refer to it often. My stocking plan is for 1 dwarf angel fish, either a Flame, Cherub, or Flameback. Also looking at other at the moment but I am for sure wanting a fire fish. Of course for the kids sake a pair of clownfish. I am also considering a flasher wrasse and a small bottom dwelling goby. <All excellent choices for your tank.> If my light is capable I want to add some polyps and mushrooms and maybe a gorgonian. <Although these are all relatively low light corals (excluding some non-photosynthetic gorgonians), some PUR (Photosynthetic Usable Radiation) is required to maintain photosynthesis in their symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae. To gauge its effectiveness, what type of bulb, ballast and reflectors are you using for your light set up?> Other inhabitant will include the usual cleaner pack and, if I feel it won't be over crowding, a coral banded shrimp. <I suspect you should be able to include a Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) without a problem. If full-grown size is a concern, you can elect to use the "Yellow" or "Dwarf" version (Stenopus scutellatus).> That's the whole thing. I believe this would qualify as a medium stocking level and should not be a problem in my setup. Now my original question was about filtration and as I said before I have live rock to thank for my biological. I am not worried about the visibility of a power filter. The thing I am worried about is a big canister out in the open because it won't fit in my stand. I would like to use only 1 Rena Smart Filter 55 because, as I said before, I have 2 protein skimmers. I want to be able to maintain the filter where it is easy to get to. Of course concern number one is for the health and well-being of my livestock. In your opinion would my setup be well cared for with a single power filter and the 2 skimmers or am I just going to have to suck it up and pay some bucks here? <Based on your stocking level and the various nutrient control methods you will also employ, a single Rena Smart Filter 55 should be sufficient for mechanical and chemical filtration.> Instead of writing a separate message I will ask now. Are the Eheim Classic canisters as good as the big brothers? As far as reliability and maintence is concerned. <The Eheim Classic is an excellent filter and is the preferred model for many aquarists worldwide for its simplicity and time-tested design. The pump used in all the Eheim filters are very reliable and energy efficient and is the cornerstone for its success.> Thanks so much Minh! It is really great to have someone like you to offer someone like me help! John A. Davis <No problem. Cheers, Minh Huynh.>

Power filter use, SW  10/22/08 Hi all, <Marc.> I have a question about mechanical filtration. I have a 75 gallon tank, with a Remora Pro for filtration. I also have two Hydor stage 4's, a stage 3 and 80 lbs of live rock. In addition I have an Emperor 400 which I'm looking to replace with another powerhead. I don't use charcoal filters with it, just generic filter pads. And I clean them every week during the water change. I was wondering if you think it would suffice to just use the protein skimmer and powerheads, and then get some more crabs to take care of the detritus? <You will be fine without the filter, I assume you have live rock to provide biofiltration?> Or am I better off using the Emperor Filter. I'd rather not use it, because I feel like it collects debris in the housing of the unit, I would rather it stay in the tank, and let the crabs take care of it. <This is the way most reef tanks are running nowadays, works well. Even better so with a macroalgae refugium. Do consider adding one down the road.> Thanks, Marc <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Power filter use 10/23/08 Scott, Thanks for the help. <My pleasure.> I took out the Emperor Filter, and now I'm worried about oxygen levels. I aimed my Hydor power filter up towards the top of the tank. Do you think this will be enough? <If it is agitating the surface it will be fine, with appropriate stocking levels.> I was considering on running the emperor without the filters. But also, I was looking at the emperor, and thinking I maybe able to turn into a refugium. <You could, see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hagenrefugart.htm, would be a very similar mod.> I would just have to purchase a small light for it. If i don't get the light right now, would it still be beneficial to run the emperor with some miracle mud? <Sure, would not hurt.> Thanks, Marc <Welcome, Scott V.>

Penguin 330 -03/22/08 I just got this 50 gallon tank from a friend when I was cleaning it the filters fell out that supposedly rotate. I don't know how they go back in. Could you assist me? <Do you mean the propeller? Please refer to the filter manual/instructions. I'm sure it has a diagram that could better assist you.> Karen <Best, Sara M.> <<Or Marineland's site... A pic of the impeller assy. here: http://www.google.com/products?q=Penguin+330&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7PCTA&um=1 RMF>>

Removal of a Tidepool II Bio-Wheel!! 3/7/08 Good Day Gentlemen, <And ladies, hello Heath.> I have a few questions for you concerning a Bio-Wheel out of a Tidepool II sump if I may. <Sure.> I have read on your site and have gathered that this Bio-Wheel could contain nitrates, or nitrate causing waste. <The problem is detritus accumulation that would otherwise be exported out of your system, not that big an issue with the Bio-Wheels compared to bioballs.> My first question is how much could it actually harm if it were a two year old system?? The reason that I ask this is because my nitrates are around 40 right now. <Yes, high.> I performed a 20% water change and it lowered the nitrates to around 30 for about 2-3 days, next thing I know, back at 40.? Obviously something is causing it. <This fast a rise is likely due to feeding or stocking levels.> Everything that could cause nitrates in the sump has been removed (blue-bonded pads, filter socks, old reactor media, etc.). The tank was recently moved (4 months ago) to my new home, so everything behind the rockwork was cleaned out as well. The only thing I could guess at is the Bio-Wheel, and if you guys will, please tell me if it could be the problem. <Not this much, this fast. Take a look at your substrate and circulation, these are much more likely to be the culprits. The mechanical media mentioned above does have the benefit of exporting the detritus, if cleaned frequently.> Here are the rest of the stats before I ask my other questions: 95g 125 lbs of LR Tidepool II sump Aqua C EV-120 skimmer PhosBan Reactor w/Pura phosphate media 9 watt UV Sterilizer (don't know if this matters) 3/4" - 1" sand bed 1 ocellaris clown, 1 medium fairy wrasse, 2 PJ Cardinals, and 1 cleaner shrimp + various snails and crabs (small stock list for this size?) 1 bubble tip anemone and various small mushrooms. Temp at 78 F,? ph 8.0 (a little low), SG 1.023, <Low also, shoot for 1.025-1.026.> nitrates @ 40 I ran out of calcium and alkalinity test liquid...sorry for the incomplete info! <No problem, not important regarding nitrate.> I have 20lbs of additional cured rock (Marco rock if you've heard of it, it's completely bleached out? and dry) that just finished curing a week ago, even though it's having a diatom bloom right now, could I add it and curve any problems that the removed bio wheel could cause? <No, dry rock is not live rock, it will take time to populate and become some semblance of live rock. With the amount of additional live rock you will be fine removing the Bio-Wheel.> Third, what potential problems could I encounter from the removal of the Bio-Wheel and how do I prevent them? Fourth, how would you recommend removing the Bio-Wheel and what would you do to prevent any problems? <You should have no problems simply removing it, I would simply take it out.> I appreciate your patience with me and any advice that you may have for me. Unlike Bio-Balls, it's all or nothing with this wheel, and I would rather err to the side of caution in removing it. Thank You Again, Heath <Welcome, thank you for writing. All will be fine with the live rock to take over. Scott V.>

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles. 2/28/08 Good Morning WWM Crew! <Hello Mike.> I have a filtration issue I was hoping to get some input on. <OK> In my 125g FOWLR tank I am currently using two Aquaclear 110 filters along with two Hydor Koralia 4 powerheads for circulation. The issue is with the Aquaclear 110s. The water return, being the "waterfall" type of return, is creating massive amounts of bubbles from both filters upon return into the tank, which are then sent shooting all over the tank by the two powerheads. <Not a good thing to have.> It's really just an aesthetic issue really (I hope), and the tank just doesn't "look right" to me. Also, is there any issues for the fish and/or my inverts (hermits, peppermint shrimp, starfish) with these bubbles? <It can be, see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm and the other related FAQ's for more info on this.> I have raised the water level to the limit (just slightly under the return flow), and it has helped a little, but it is still a big issue. <Can you raise it up to the return flow to prevent the drop/splashing?> I was wondering if there was any way to modify the filters to change the return water flow and cut down (or in a perfect world eliminate) the bubbles? I was hoping to not have to go to a new filter, and be able to make the existing filters work somehow (with less bubbles). <Some hang on the back skimmers use boxes inside the tank to prevent these bubbles and they are fairly effective. You just find a small plastic container that will capture the water coming out of the filter and cut the bottom out. Then replace the bottom of the container with some filter foam. This will drastically help your bubble issues. Do be sure the top of this box is lower than the top of your tank, giving the water somewhere to go should the box overflow.> I would appreciate any help and suggestions you could provide. As always, thank you for the help and your time. Mike P. <Welcome, do try raising the water level a bit more first, this should really do the trick. Good luck, Scott V.>

Skimmer and Silicates 01/23/2008 Aloha Bob and Crew, <<Hello, Andrew here>> Does a protein skimmer remove silicates from a marine aquarium? Eric <<A protein skimmer won't effectively remove silicates from the aquarium. Theses need to be removed by the use of a removal media such as Rowa-phos. You can limit the amount of silicates in the tank by using zero TDS RO or RO/DI>> <<Thanks for the question. A Nixon>>

Question concerning Damselfish and Filter, power, maint... Pomacentrid incomp.  12/4/07 Hello! First of all, I would like to hop on the bandwagon with everyone else and let you know how wonderful your website is. It is great getting feedback from knowledgeable aquarists. <Thanks!> Now my questions: This is my first saltwater tank and has, so far, been a pleasure to maintain. It is definitely a rewarding experience. I have a 20 gallon tank filled with close to 20 pounds of live rock arranged to allow lots of hiding space, holes to swim through, and good water flow. The filter I use is a Top Fin Power Filter 20, which uses floss/carbon filters to clean the water. My question concerns this filter. I understand that a lot of the beneficial bacteria for the tank's ecosystem likes to live on the floss in the filter, so when I change the filter, will this effectively throw my tank into another cycling stage? Or will there be enough bacteria growing on other things in the tank, (i.e. LR, Live sand, etc), to repopulate the filter and stabilize it relatively quickly? <It is certainly true in a traditional tank that most of the biological filtration takes place in the canister filter. However, in a marine tank with live rock, it is the live rock that does most of the filtration, and the filter is mostly there for mechanical filtration (i.e., removal of solid waste particles) and to generate water current. Opinion varies on what the optimum interval between filter cleans should be; some people like to leave their filters for as long as possible, while others maintain frequent cleaning is better. I know Bob recommends doing filter cleans every 4-6 weeks, and each time a good rule of thumb is to clean the media in buckets of aquarium water (to keep the bacteria alive) and to change no more than 50% of the media at any one time. Usually it's the filter wool and sometimes the sponges that need replacing; the ceramic "noodles" should last many years, especially good quality ones like Siporax.> Secondly, I made the mistake of purchasing two Blue Damselfish and one Four-Striped Damsel. One of the blue Damsels immediately established dominance in the tank and nipped the other blue Damsel to the point to where it could no longer swim. I moved the latter to a smaller isolation tank to try to force-feed it myself in order to keep it alive , to no avail. The four-striped Damsel, after doing a little research, is of the genus Dascyllus, which is apparently a social species. While the blue Damsel is particularly aggressive, the four-striped damsel is not. I am probably going to return the blue damsel to my LFS and purchase a couple more four-striped damsels. Is this advisable? <They can certainly work very well in groups, but this does depend on the tank and the size of the group. As a rule, Damselfish can work well either singly or in groups of 6+. It's when you keep twos and threes that problems with bullying occur. This is especially true if you add two newer (and smaller) fish to a tank that already has one specimen who has "staked his claim". Relatively few Damselfish are mindless schooling fish in the same way as, say, Danios; rather, they form aggregations with dominant males at the top, constantly bullying all the others in the group. In the wild, this doesn't do too much harm because no sub-dominant individual gets too beaten up, and predators will continually be removing members of the group periodically, re-shuffling the hierarchy. But in the closed confines of an aquarium this sort of arrangement doesn't work, and the end result is bullying.><<This volume is too small to accommodate Pomacentrids... RMF>> Also, in schooling these damsels, will it help keep aggression, (what little I've seen from the four-stripe), towards other fish at bay? <Possibly, but I wouldn't bank on it. As a rule, Damsels orient aggression towards not just their own species, but any other Damselfish in the tank.> I am planning on getting an Ocellaris clown in the future. <Ah, don't forget Clownfish are Damselfish in good standing, and much of their behaviour can, will overlap because they "speak" the same language and have the same demands. So again, avoiding overcrowding will be the key to getting them living together happily. Clowns are relatively mild fish in terms of aggression, whereas Dascyllus Humbug-type damsels are closer to the top-end of the aggression range. Unless you have a big tank, my gut feeling is that you won't have space for half a dozen Dascyllus plus a Clownfish. Indeed, you may not even have the space for a stable group of Dascyllus. Let's say you need ~90 litres per Dascyllus, so we're talking a tank around the 500-600 litre mark just for them. That's a pretty big tank.><<Yes... well-stated; and this is but a twenty gallon system. RMF>> Thanks for all of your help! Matt <Hope this helps, Neale.>

New Skimmer? Ozone? Both? - 05/11/07 Hello Crew, <<Greetings Graham>> I have a quick question. <<Uh-huh [grin]>> I am thinking about upgrading my Skimmer to an AquaC EV120 or 180 if I can fit it, because I would like to have better water quality. <<Good skimmers...good company...good people>> I was wondering if I should upgrade the skimmer, or add ozone to my current venturi no-name skimmer? <<I would put the addition of a quality skimmer ahead of the ozone>> Or both, add the ozone and upgrade to the EV? <<This is fine too.  I do like/advocate/use ozone myself but do not consider it a necessary component...unlike a quality skimmer>> I also plan on adding a calc reactor in a few weeks. <<Another worthwhile addition>> I would like to get the EV with the John Guest valve for the reactor effluent.  I know the ozone increases the efficiency of protein skimming but the cost of a Korallin reactor and AquaC skimmer is pretty high. <<My vote goes to the skimmer first then>> I currently have a 100 gallon reef tank with some LPS, and mushrooms. 1 juvy Imperator (starting to change), a Maroon Clown, and Engineer Goby. <<The angel will need a bigger tank>> The tank has been running for over 2 years and everything seems ok except for some organics in the water.  I do 20% changes every other week.  I tested my water last night and had .03ppm ammonia, <<...!>> 0 nitrite, 10 ppm nitrate, 400ppm calcium, and 10dkh alkalinity.  I think this is due to my poor skimmer. <<The presence of ammonia?...I'm skeptical...even without a skimmer at all this should be "zero."  It doesn't appear your tank is overstocked "at the moment," so something else is adding the ammonia to the system (your source water?).  But the first thing I would do is confirm the efficacy of your test kit>> I also have a "fuge" with Chaetomorpha in it. <<Excellent>> I would like to keep some SPS/Acroporids once I get my water issues in check and the calc reactor installed.  I have 2 400W halides and 4X65 2 actinic 2 half and half PC's so my lighting should be fine.  Thank you for all of your info, the site has helped me with all aspects of this great hobby. <<Were pleased to assist>> I almost forgot, how long does it usually take for Imperators to fully change from juv. to adult coloration once they start to develop a bit of yellow along their dorsal fin? <<Is variable...dependent on their environment.  It can be a quick as a few months, to never quite fully completing the change.  Outfitting this fish in a bigger system (minimum of 180g) can make all the difference and will have a definite impact on its long-term health>> Graham <<Regards, EricR>>

Cascade 300 Internal for 3g w/sump - 03/18/07 Okay so this is kind of a random question... I got a 3g pico, drilled, with a 2.5g sump that is set up all happy and nice with barely 1/2" of sand, seeded from my established tank, around 2lbs of liverock with some zoos <Toxic... trouble for such a small volume> and a little xenia. There's 3 small PC lights on there that are so bright, you can see the bedroom glowing outside at night :) There's also a really sad looking brown clown goby, <Not suitable behaviorally for such a small space... live on expansive Acropora tables...> who refused to eat in the big tank, and now looks like some sort of refugee from hell who refuses to eat currently. (Cyclop-eeze, fresh shrimp, brine shrimp, etc doesn't care for) I guess he just gave up hope for life. At any rate. I got a Cascade 300 Internal Filter that's set up just barely fitting in the refugium area of the sump but its kind of noisy... Its supposedly 70gph for tanks up to 10g so am I kind of over filtering? <Possibly over circulating> More is better than less I figured since half the time the advertised GPH is much different than what really happens. <This is so> I have it set up with the little air hose above the tank level and the water its spitting out is just... loud! Would getting the flexible air tubing and just maneuvering that around help it not be so "shshsghshgshgsgh" or should I get a different filter? <The latter> I like the idea of an internal filter so the sump water level doesn't have to be so high for a hang-on filter but there's so few choices for the pico/nano genre of tanks. <Look into other brands... Eheim, Rena... May have to order through catalogs, the Net> I like the fact that it gives you choices in filter media, as the Stingray internal filters are so bleh and fat. Should I just wait a while and see if it quiets down with the flexible air hose if I can find it? Or do you have any better recommendations on the filter? <See above> Also... if the clown goby finally decides to just die or do something other than stare at his food forlornly, would a skunk clown be too big for that tank? <See WWM, Fishbase.org, the Net re... the real answer, no... Your space is too small> I mean, I've had experience with a bigger set up but the tank is pretty nifty and so are skunk clowns, and from what I've seen they don't get as big as even false Percs.. right? <... See... Bob Fenner>

Canister or Power Filter for Nutrient Export? Neither   3/15/07 Hi Crew.., <Hello.> I have a 55 gal reef tank with about 35 lbs of live rock, an A-Miracle HOT wet/dry trickle filter and a remora protein skimmer and two extra pumps just to increase water flow. Inhabitants are 10 Nassarius snails, a serpent star, mushroom, a few button polyps, diamond goby, flame angel , a bicolor pseudo and an algae blenny. Nothing terribly fancy as you can see. Mostly, things run well,  but whenever I seek to add a fish, I start having problems. I think the wet/dry  is too small, and as a result, the system cannot handle even a slightly  increased bio load. I'd like to add supplemental filtration, and I am  considering the Eheim Pro 2224 canister. What do you think? <For nutrient control, no.> Should I use it as both chemical and mechanical filtration, or, given that its just to be a supplemental, am I better off just with chemical filtration to keep nitrates and phosphate <Nice to have on hand in emergencies, use if you are keeping noxious inverts....but necessary to run it all the time? No.> s in check? Any suggestions on using carbon in this scenario? Will adding such supplemental filtration allow for a slightly heavier bio load? <No, use more water changes and/or refugiums for this.> I'm not looking to over do it. I just want to add maybe 2 fish and perhaps some hermits, maybe another mushroom. Thanks!! I love the  site!! <Honestly what you need is better nutrient export. I wouldn't recommend a canister or a power filter for any for any of this. Look up Hang on Refugiums...refugiums in general....on WWM. Adam J.> Re:  Internal Filter Suggestion 2/2/07> Hello again, <Hello Heather> Thank you for the quick response! That was actually one of the filters I was considering (I visit MarineDepot often. It's a great site!). I received the Tunze Nano Filter in the mail a couple days ago and just put it into my tank. However, I can't tell if it's working or not. The pump in the bottom is putting water out, but the surface skimmer does not appear to be pulling any water into it. It doesn't seem like the water is being filtered down through the ChemiPure bag I have in the filter area. While it was running, I took the filter mostly out of the water and the pump in the bottom kept putting water out, proving that it isn't getting the water it's pumping from the rest of the filter above it. I don't really understand how it is supposed to work. How can I tell that it is working properly and filtering the water? <First off, you should be able to feel the water coming out of the return tube.  You will not see water gushing into the surface skimmer, but it does work.  I change my micro floss weekly, and it is very brown from the surface skimming.  You may be putting too much floss on top of your media, this will restrict the flow somewhat.  I'd send this query to Roger at Tunze, he knows the product better than I.  Here is the email addy.   Tunze@sbcglobal.net Thanks in advance! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> -Heather

Internal Filter Suggestion 1/24/07 Hi, <Hello Heather> I know that internal filters aren't recommended, and believe me, if I had other options I would opt to go another route as well. However, I live in an extremely small dorm room and do not have space for something like a canister filter. I have a 20g long (it literally takes up the only free space in the room) with 25lbs of LR, a half inch bed of sand, one ocellaris clown, and a cleaner shrimp (I am thinking about adding a yellow watchman soon). The tank has been up for over two years now. Unfortunately, I have an Eclipse 3 hood. I installed a retrofit kit and have 65W coming from a 50/50 bulb. I have long since removed the BioWheel in the filtration system and replaced it with a bag of ChemiPure. Instead of using the overpriced Eclipse filter cartridges, I have placed a PolyFilter pad in that space. I despise the filtration setup on this hood. It puts a small amount of bubbles into the water, is noisy, and threatens to overflow if the ChemiPure bag isn't placed just so. I want something that is more reliable and just all around better that won't cost me a bunch of money and won't take up room outside of the tank. I thought about a HOB filter but I do not see how that would work with the Eclipse hood. I have been researching internal filters online but none of them tell you how much space there is for you to put in your own filter media. I need one that will have room for a bag of 10 oz. ChemiPure and a PolyFilter pad. Do you know any of them that will allow me to do this? Also, I am open to any other filter upgrade options and advice you may have for me. Thanks so much! <You are an excellent candidate for the Tunze Nano Filter.  This system does sit inside the tank and has a built in surface skimmer, rare in internal filters.  One bag of Chemi-Pure will fit nicely in the filter.  A small layer a micron floss covering the top is all that is needed.  Its flow rate is 211 gph and will give good water movement in your 20 gallon.  The filter is very easy to service/clean.  I can attest to this as I run one on a 40 gallon mini reef.  They sell for $52.50 and you will not find one cheaper at one place than another.  Tunze is very strict on their pricing.    www.premiumaquatics.com (Indiana) and www.marinedepot.com (California) are two etailers that carry the line. Here's the link to Tunze. http://www.tunze.com/149.html?&L=1&C=US&user_tunzeprod_pi1[predid]=-infoxunter048 There is a link to other dealer addresses on the left sidebar.> Appreciatively, <You're very welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Heather

Micron filter sizing...  12/24/06 <Hello (Saint?) Nick!  Mich with you tonight.> I'm trying to get my facts straight and was unable to find a response or  question on your FAQs that answered my question.  Basically I'm confused  about micron measurements and would like to know is the higher the micron (i.e.  100) the smaller the particle that will be filtered?  Therefore what a 50 micron filter pad would miss would be captured by a 100 micron  pad.  Or do I simply have my assumption backwards? <Bass backwards!  A 100 micron filter will only catch particles that are larger than 100 microns.  In this case, a particle that was 50 microns would pass right through the filter and would not be removed.  The smaller the micron size of the filter the more particles it will remove, but the filter will also clog more quickly.>      Happy Holidays <And to you and yours!  -Mich> Nick I Need a New (Quiet) Filter - 12/18/06 Hello again :-) <<Hi Donna>> I have 3 tanks, one of which is a 35g using a Penguin 350 BioWheel Filter. This tank is in my bedroom, and my hubby cannot seem to get past the noise of the filter & trickling water sounds. <<Not a "pet-fish" person eh?>> I am also not getting enough water circulation around my entire tank. <<That's not good...>> So…I am in the market for a new filter. <<Okey-Dokey>> I have looked at several, but am not sure which one to choose.  Here is what I'm looking at: 1.  Diatom Model D-1 Filter (up to 55g) 2.  A-175 Fluval 4 "Plus" Underwater Filter (up to 57g) 3.  Magnum 350 Pro (up to 100g and includes BioWheel) 4.  H.O.T. Magnum Pro System 250 (up to 50g, hang on tank, BioWheel) 5.  Rena Filstar XP2 (up to 75g) My first priority is noise level. <<Understood>> The filter must be super quiet (including water flow sounds), or basically silent. <<Then you'll likely want to skip any "BioWheel" attachments>> As it would be quite costly for me to buy them all and try them, I'm hoping that I can get some sound (haha) advice from this great group! Thanks so much. Donna <<Well Donna, for bedroom duty I think you'll find the H.O.T. Magnum 250 (sans BioWheel) will serve nicely.  These units run quietly, and since you won't be paying for/using the BioWheel, you might even consider getting/using two on this tank for the additional filtration and flow.  You could fill one with bio-media...and fill the other with chemical media.  Regards, Eric Russell>>

"Seeding" new filter media   11/26/07 Hi crew, <Hi Dave, Mich here.> I have a small tank with one of those Whisper filters that hangs inside the tank, where the filter media is just a flat floss envelope with some carbon inside.  It's getting time to change the floss envelope-- got all shredded from picking algae out of it.  I've got the new filter pack sitting in the side of the tank to "seed" with beneficial bacteria before I remove the old filter pack.  How long will the new filter pack take to accumulate enough bacterial growth to avoid problems when I remove the old one?  <I'd give it a couple of days if you can.> Thanks, -Dave

UV or Ozone? - 11/09/06 Hi crew, <<Mohamed>> If an Ozonizer is used do you still need to use a UV. <<Matter of opinion/personal preference.  Both have practical application in the hobby, but I prefer to use ozone over UV as I feel its method of application is more effective/useful for my reef system.  If keeping FO/FOWLR systems UV can prove useful for "limiting" pathogens (if the unit is properly sized/maintained) but is to "indiscriminate" for reef systems in my opinion>> It seems as if the Ozonizer serves the same task as a UV and more. (marine) <<Mmm...some overlap I would agree...but not the "same">> Mohamed <<Regards, EricR>>

Filtration...Eliminating HOB Filter   6/27/06 Hey crew, <Justin> Got a quick question. I've got a 40 gallon custom sized tank (32.5"x14.25"x19"... don't ask me where it's from, bought it used from my LFS and they were as confused as me! Currently running with the filtration it came with in a package deal: an Emperor 400 (no BioWheels), and a Prizm Pro skimmer. I'm already in the planning stages of replacing these, before I go much further, the tank stands now (50lb live rock, 30lb live sand, a Chromis and an ocellaris), and would very much like to eliminate the HOB filtration unit. I've already got a tentative order in for the Coralife Super Skimmer at my LFS, which is much closer to my price range than my desired gear (a remora... of course), but now I'm looking at the possibility of a CPR Aquafuge, just to avoid having to drill the tank, or the pitfalls of a HOB siphon system. In your opinion, would the largest size AquaFuge, with a DSB, a few pounds of LR rubble, and macro algaes would be sufficient to drop the Emperor altogether? <Sure, many systems are run this way.> The sandbed in my tank is more for show than nitrifying properties, as it ranges from an inch to an inch and a half in depth, and I'd prefer to not increase that for aesthetics. I can always add more LR to the tank, to balance out, just curious on your opinions towards this (almost too) simple sounding solution. <No problems, go for it.> Thanks in advance, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Justin UV Sterilizer   6/3/06 Hello, I have a 140 gallon FOWLR tank with about 15 fish in it and I don't have a uv sterilizer and I know I need to get one ASAP. <... why?> I looked at the coral life turbo twist 36watt system and it seems to be a good choice for me.  I know I could get less watts but I was thinking to get the 36 watt so when I get a bigger tank I can use it, does that make sense or should I stick to a lower watt unit, if so what wattage should I use.  Thanks Walid <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/UVFAQs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> SW Cycling - 3/20/2006 Hello everyone: <<Hi Cody>> I'm getting ready to install a Magnum 350 canister filter in my 29 gallon salt. It is a used system; it was used for fresh water. The question is, the bio wheels are still wet from fresh water. How would I introduce the biological system for the salt water with out crashing the tank? <<The nitrifying bacteria housed on the FW canister are different from the SW variety of nitrifying bacteria.  They will not survive the transfer.  Please search WWM regarding cycling and filtration.>> Thanks for your help. Cody <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Removal of BioWheels from saltwater tank 01-26-06 Good afternoon!  I am in the process of setting up a second saltwater tank.  The first tank has been running for 2 months. Would it be ok for me to remove the BioWheels from the filter on the first tank (even though no fish have been added as of yet)?  I want to use the established BioWheels to help setup the new tank.  But I do not want the removal of the wheels to effect the first tank.  I currently have 70 lbs of LR in the established tank. Is that enough load to support the removal of the BioWheels?  By the way, the wheels have at least a years worth of bacteria on them.  They are from a previous SW tank. <Go ahead and remove them. Your live rock should handle the small cycle that may occur. Travis>

Filter Requirements/Over-filtering  12/16/05 Previously sent to Bobs mail by mistake, Apologies I have a 55gal mixed tank containing : 40lbs Live rock 2-3in Coral Sand various soft corals Maxima Clam 2x Clowns 2in & 1.5in 1x Ritteri I've had for well over 12months, Dinner plate size <Not good to keep with corals> 1x Regal Tang 3in <Will soon need a larger home> 6x Chromis 1in 1x Chalk Gobi 1.5in 1x Mandarin 1.5in Hardware : 2x Eheim 2224 external canisters biological, one with Ehfimech and one with Ehfisubstrat (Eheim 2224 Pump output 700l/h. Filter circulation 500l/h.) Arcadia 2x 250w Halide Prizm Deluxe Skimmer (I know your not a fan looking for a replacement) 3x Powerhead Now the question :     Also running is the Internal filter that came with the tank (Juwel Rio 240 tank), that runs as Mechanical filtration using only Polly Pads as media.  My biggest issue is do i need to retain the Internal filter as it takes up a large portion of the tank and also requires cleaning frequently due to its Mechanical nature.  Will the 2 Eheims ( Both Bio ) combined with the L/R & Skimmer be adequate filtration for a mixed tank.  Currently suffering a Nitrate Bloom and no idea why, I've used 2 different test kits with the same results however the livestock have shown no adverse reactions to the nitrate increase, I want to unclutter the Tank to eliminate possible culprits. Do you think that 3 Filters is a little over the top for 55gal, the Eheims are both over 12 months mature so should cope with the extra load,   Or would they benefit from a little more action ? <Dan, all mechanical filters need to be cleaned on a weekly basis with pads being changed or replaced.  In not doing so, the filters will turn into a nitrate factory.  Ten percent weekly water changes are recommended also.  Read here for more info.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm  James (Salty Dog)> Current readings Ammonia = 0, Nitrite = 0, Nitrate = 50ppm, Grav 1,024 & temp = 25 - 26 deg. Any advice would be appreciated.

Nutrients/Nitrates, and Research  12/10/05 Hello WWM Crew, <Hello.> I am noticing an increase on my nitrate levels to 20 ppm when it was previously 0. I have a(n) Emperor filter system with type e carbon filters, one Purigen filter, a Chemi-Pure filter <The bio-wheel on the emperor filters are great at breaking down ammonia and nitrite (much like any other bio-media) but not so good when it comes to nitrates, the media within them can become detritus/nutrient traps as well if not cleaned regularly.> medium and recently 2 de-nitrate filters recommended by my LFS. Our protein skimmer is a Prizm and is collecting like usual. I have done water changes using filtered water by the LFS of 8 and 7 gals with the nitrate levels decreasing initially and then rising about a week later. <How often so you change the water? It should be once weekly.> We have a Yellow Tang, 1 damsel, 1 bat fish and a recently added mandarin. <Well you don't mention stocking list but with your given equipment I'll guess this is a small scale tank. In which case you are severely overstocked, your current stocking list warrants a VERY large aquarium (the batfish and the mandarins feeding habits, although I wouldn't be surprised if the batfish ate the mandarin when he got larger, that's if the mandarin does not starve first) I think this load along with feeding them is to blame for your nutrient problems.> We have around 17 different types of coral both soft and hard with around 40 lbs of live rock. Our base is gravel that develops layer of green algae a few days after I vacuum with my gravel vac. How can I get my nitrates level back to 0 and should I make larger water changes? <Yes try a few consecutive water changes, something like 2 or 3 in the 30% range would be helpful.> Also that green algae layer on my gravel; why doesn't the LFS have that in their tanks? <The algae is being fueled by your nutrients, also more water flow would not hurt here either. Sounds as if detritus is accumulating on the sand bed as well. Siphoning the sand bed while doing these water changes is not a bad idea. Also I would rather look into a more efficient protein skimmer or hang on refugium than other types of bio-media filtration, especially with the corals and mandarin.> Thank you in advance your website is very informational. <Thank you please continue to read through it, Adam J.>

Filtration for Post-spawn Clean-up  12/1/05 Hello, <Good Morning> I looked over water-polishing entries on WWM and I didn't see the answer to my specific question, so that's why I'm asking the crew. I have a rose bulb tip anemone (male) that spawns every month or two. When he spawns, the water becomes milky and the spawn is obviously toxic--he once killed an otherwise perfectly healthy damsel. Anyway, what I do now is use activated carbon in a power filter and also a canister filter, along with floss to help clear and detoxify the water. However, this takes 12 hours or maybe more.  I was wondering, would a water-polishing filter (which I know nothing about) clean the water up quickly. If yes, what would be an inexpensive, quality product you might recommend.  <Gary, a water polishing filter such as a diatom filter will only trap the substance and once this is completed you need to remove the filter from the tank and clean. A Marineland Magnum HOB, using the 5 micron filter should do the trick. The filter cartridge can easily be cleaned in a bleach/water solution for reuse. Another product you can put in your canister filter is Chemi-Pure. It has scavenging and ion exchange resins along with a excellent grade of carbon. I use this product myself and love it. James (Salty Dog)> Thank you in advance, Gary  <You're welcome>

Marine Filtration: Marineland Power Filters  11/30/05 Hi! <Hello.> I am currently looking for filters for my marine aquarium. My first choice is the Bio-wheel filters. There is the Marineland Emperor Filter Systems and then the Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter, both use the bio-wheel, what's the difference? <Honestly I'm not a fan of using Power filters in marine aquaria aside from occasional running of carbon and providing some additional water flow. I would much rather see other methods like some sort of combo of the following: an efficient protein skimmer, live rock, a deep sand bed, refugiums, and high flow rates are nice too. Of all of these I would def. not skimp on the skimmer. As far as the two filters in your query both are built run on the same technology, but I believe the Emperor line has larger pumps (larger in general and can handle larger water volumes) than their Penguin cousins. They are generally the same. Adam J.>  <<Proper names to be capitalized.  For instance: Penguin, when referring to the brand.  Marina>>

UV STERILIZER Do you recommend a UV Sterilizer for a reef aquarium with some fish? I've heard that the UV light will kill desirable bacteria, micro and macro-organisms good for the tank.  <Bob, UV sterilizers are a double edge sword.  Yes, they are effective in lowering parasitic infections, and yes, they do kill desirable organisms.  Search WWM, keyword, UV sterilizers, for more info.  James (Salty Dog)> Please advise. Bob

Staying The Course With a Mechanical Filter System Greetings to all at WWM, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> The more I read the articles/FAQ's at WWM the more I'm doubting I have everything I need for my 110g. So, I figured I'd ask you for your honest opinion (which btw you always share so graciously, and for free no less!  And I thank you for that). <You're quite welcome! We're happy to be here for you!> My tank has been set up just over a week now, and Ammonia and nitrites are zero thanks to a frozen live bacteria packet. <Good to hear that> Here's what I have: a Fluval 404, Red Sea Prizm Pro protein skimmer, about 80lbs of LR, and for fish; a 5" Niger Trigger, a 3" Picasso, four Blue Damsels, and a Percula Clown (an odd bunch, I know, but they've been together since they were very young getting along just fine). <Definitely an interesting group! I am a bit surprised that the damsels have not become snacks yet...I guess the big guys haven't figured out that their "pals" are tasty!> And, I'm hoping to replace the Picasso with a small Angel, and maybe get another P. Clown. <Hmm...If it were me, I'd replace the Niger Trigger. These guys have a huge growth potential and maximum size (like 20 inches), so I'd keep the Picasso, which is smaller and often more affable in mixed tanks. A Trigger is a Trigger, of course, but it's more likely that you'd have a better chance with the Picasso, IMO> So my question is this, is the Fluval 404 up to this job? <Well, if you are particularly attentive to maintenance and media replacement, you can utilize this filter as part of complete filtration "package". Mechanical filtration systems' greatest strengths are also their greatest weaknesses. You really don't want to overtax the filter, and you don't want to allow detritus and other debris to accumulate in the media, where they can degrade water quality over time.  I've heard about bad pieces getting stuck, and soiling the water etc. <I think that's kinda what I was hinting at! We're on the same page!> And is the Prizm Pro good enough to pick up what the Fluval is lacking, I mean, will they work well together with the LR etc.? <If the skimmer is yanking out a couple of cups of dark, smelly skimmate each week, then it's doing the job. If it isn't, do try adjusting it. If this doesn't work, you may want to consider a more capable skimmer.> I want to get a Wet-Dry but I don't have the space for one. Is there an other type of a good filter that you recommend that is not as big as the wet-dry, but better than the Fluval 404? Or should I just keep my existing setup? <Well, in this instance, I'd keep the Fluval, but consider removing some fishes, and really pumping up the husbandry practices. In other words, more frequent water changes and media replacement. Also, consider a more aggressive protein skimmer. This combination can really help keep water quality high!> Thanks you much for any help. -Nalaka <My pleasure, Nalaka! Good luck with your efforts! Regards, Scott F.>

- Looking for Foam in All the Wrong Places - Yes Hi, I have been looking around everywhere for about a month now for the where-abouts of Foam Water Polishing Blocks for a SeaLife wet/dry system. I came across your site looking for them. If you are bugged by this minor annoying problem, all I would like is a link or something to get me to the right site of where I can buy them. <Personally, I use the various foam blocks made for the AquaClear filters. You should be able to find one that is either a perfect fit or needs some minor cutting to fit. As for the direct replacement part for your SeaLife filter, your guess is as good as mine.> Thx a lot, Kyle <Cheers, J -- >

Filter Pad Changing  Hi There! I have a 100gal marine set-up with about 60lbs live rock and live sand. Miscellaneous fish/inverts -- no corals. Here's my questions. I have a wet/dry filter system and where the filter pad goes, I literally change it on a DAILY BASIS because it gets soooo mucked up full of dirt, that the water even flows over the whole thing over the other side. I've tried going to as less as a micron as possible for a filter pad (25) and still it continues -- maybe, sometimes it can stretch to 2 days (whoopeee). I've even added a sponge to the bottom of the filter to try to help block/absorb some of the dirt particles, but it didn't make a difference. Any ideas/suggestions? Would appreciate any thoughts! I know I should have to change it that often and it's getting a bit tiring. THANKS MUCH! Jennefer Schelfhout, Palatine, IL  <Hi Jennefer! You could either remove some of the inhabitants that produce the waste, or look into a protein skimmer. Good luck, Ryan>

Protein Skimming, Ozone, and UV Use in Marine Filtration I read this article with much interest and have some questions. I have an ozonizer. I hooked it up to feed through my venturi skimmer. I have an Aquatemp controller that measures ORP. I started up the Ozonizer and in two hours my ORP dropped 20 points instead of going up. <can easily be explained by any number of possible disturbances to the system during the installation of the unit if not something entirely different (skimmer being off briefly during installation, waning photoperiod and nutrient cycling, a fish/coral feeding, etc... all of the many things that a Redox meter allows you to recognize regarding ORP changes) I tried cleaning the skimmer in case it was dead cells coming off of it. Fired it up again and the ORP started dropping again. After I turned it off after the first drop the water did go back to it's original ORP in a few hours. Is this an expected reaction when just starting an ozonizer up or is something up. I appreciate any input. <very common. ORP readings will fluctuate with great sensitivity to the things that you do and do not do to the system. This is wonderful for tweaking your habits in husbandry. A fresh water change for example will drop your ORP (!!!) with new seawater but then later raise it to higher than what it was before the water change> Thanks, Dave Young <best regards, Anthony>

Protein skimming, U.V, ozone Good morning: <cheers> First - thank you for providing such a wealth of information on the web site and through your book. <thanks kindly... do tell a friend!> Scenario: 75g FOWLR (#80), non-sump, fairly lightly loaded (Koran, Blue damsel, Sailfin tang - totaling about 12-14" of swimming machines) with an assortment of snails and crabs. Running a CPR Bak-pak for skimming. Ammonia-near zero, Nitrite-near zero, Nitrates- high, above 50ppm, Two issues: 1. We seem to be experiencing an ich breakout and <if chronic do examine temperature stability (especially if no new fish have been added without first quarantining them). Temperature fluctuations are most always the root cause. The "experts" say no more than a 2F swing is acceptable. Admittedly a 3F or 3.5F swing is tolerable by most fishes but even this is really pushing your luck. Do check temps morning, noon and late night. Dead even stability is the key here. Use a second heater (better husbandry anyway) to accomplish this. If you are going to invest... buy a titanium heater with a remote thermostat (much better heater design then the disposable glass jobs we are used to)> 2. not a lot of skimmate being produced. In fact the CPR has never produced a ton of skimmate <Hmmm... any good skimmer should produce daily dark skimmate. ESPECIALLY on a fish only tank where nutrient levels are inevitably high. If back mount... is your pump drawing water at the surface (0-2")? If sump model... is your skimmer in a baffled section or skimmer box with a stable water level (not just sitting in the sump at the mercy of sump level fluctuations)? Common flaws> I wanted to add either ozone (cut down the ich load and improve skimmer performance)  <a good idea if applied correctly with a Redox controller and carbon on air and water effluents. You won't be disappointed> or U.V (to cut down ich load).  <UV is a complete waste of money for most aquarists and this will not cure your Ich problem likely. Find the root cause. If interested in knowing why UV is so challenging to make effective, do a Google search of WetWebMedia from our home page using "UV, Calfo, Anthony" in keyword search to read some of my long-winded explanations for the difficulties of UV in non-commercial applications> According to CPR the BakPak 2r (the reef version with no BioBale)  <thank goodness... Bio-bale...hahahhahhahhahha...hehehhehhehhe... wahoo! I wish I would have thought of sweeping a machine shop's floor and calling it filter media> is not recommended for ozone "We do not recommend using ozone with the Bak-Pak 2R due to the fact that it is very difficult to remove all of the ozone before the water re-enters the aquarium. You may be able to do this if you use a carbon pad, but it will be very difficult to put a bag of carbon in the Bak-Pak without restricting the flow." <HA! I do like and recommend CPR skimmers for some aquarists... but would you like to know the real reason for not recommending ozone? Cheap acrylic! not all acrylic withstands ozone... some are degraded and become brittle (leak) within a year or two. The alternate explanation about ozone being difficult to filter from effluent water is embarrassing and ridiculous. The effluent water is simply passed over a satchel of carbon. Or... carbon is simply in one of the stages of filtration between the skimmer and sump return pump. As far as ozone in the air... ahhh, how about a small nylon bag of carbon sitting on top of the skimmer cup vent hole or lid. I don't think that's too difficult for most aquarists to master. Heehee. cheap plastic> I have emailed them to ask if the BioBale in the cpr-2 makes any difference in their opinion for ozone suitability. <ahhh...no.> Now the questions: IYO is the manufacturer right in being concerned with ozone in the CPR? (they do say that the plastic will stand up to it).  <if they say their plastic will and will back it up, then I assure you that properly applied ozone has many merits and is no more dangerous than overdosing iodine or calcium in an aquarium. All can be beneficial or fatal> And if you agree would you prefer in this situation to see some U.V added, some other method for adding ozone (remember no sump available) or replacement of the skimmer with another HOT that is more efficient and ozone friendly? <you may not need ozone at all and you definitely don't need a UV. The skimmer may just need tweaked or tuned. Else, another skimmer is likely a better investment than either ozone or UV> Your advice welcomed and thank you in advance for your help. Charles <best regards, Anthony>

Diatom or not Hi There Bob, Anthony or whomever is in today. I have a quick question. I have a recently, 8 weeks ago, setup a 125, which is the new home of my old 55. I have 150 lb. of LR so far. All is great except, Ammonia-0, Nitrite-0, pH-8.2, Calcium-450. I have a trace of nitrates between 5 and 20 ppm, up and down. Anyway my question is will using my Vortex diatom for cleaning make it worse or better? <They are a fine mechanical filter.> I have snails, reef crabs, and such in there but I see *crap* in the sand plus I think the bloom of yucky brown algae is back. <The diatoms are normal for new tanks, including upgrades in which a lot of new substrate is used. They generally disappear on there own after a month or two. As far as the other "crap", I don't know what that is or have an opinion on it.> I have only a few corals in there very small 1 mushroom, 1 colony of green button polyps, plus 12 fish, and one cleaner shrimp. Also I just bought a new protein skimmer which will be here on Friday. My old one isn't big enough for the 125. I'd like to run the vortex today but don't want to cause more trouble. <Should be fine.> Also the prefilter skimmer box on it the filter pad in it is brown now can I rinse it and put it back or what? <Sure> As always thanks to the best crew ever *WWM* you guys are a blessing! Take care, Robin :) <You too! -Steven Pro>

Particulate filter I was wondering what i could use for a particular filter in my reef tank. I just removed my wet dry so i have no particulate "screen". <You have several options. My preferred method is to put some baffles in the sump to allow for sedimentation. Another way is to use Emperor Aquatics Filter prefilter socks. You could also fit a sponge over the intake of your return pump. The last two require several times weekly cleanings. Vacuum out detritus whenever visible with the first method.> Unless my protein skimmer counts? <Protein skimmers are wonderful devices, but not mechanical filters.> What is your opinion on the AMiracle Mimi-Quad counter current with a 600 Rio? <I have never used it. Does it produce skimmate several times weekly the color of tea to coffee? If so, you just answered your own question. If not play around with it and see if you can increase production. -Steven Pro>

Surface film that won't go away! Mr. Fenner - I wrote you a couple of weeks ago about a new anemone that was floating around my tank because he had a big ol' air pocket in him. Thanks to your swift response and suggestions, said anemone seems to be doing quite well now (and is back on the bottom where he belongs!). Thanks! <Ahh, good to read of your quick rescue> Since I last wrote, I've spent hours on your site (which is just a wealth of info!), much to the wife's dismay. And I have another question for you (actually, I have dozens...) <Her dismay? I'll bet you she's actually delighted with your enjoyment, progress, easier-going nature...> Whilst gazing longingly into my reef-in-the-making tank, I looked up and noticed the surface of the water was covered in some sort of "film". It looks almost like dust, but the dust "specks" seem to cling together in places in spots about 1/8" in diameter. <Happens all the time... and a very common cause of troubles...> The only thing I can glean from my logbook is that this must have happened shortly after the addition of some live rock (that was well cured). Water tests show zeros on the nasty stuff, Ca = 450, Alk = 3.6, Sg = 1.025. <Films come from all sorts of places... household cooking, from inside the tank... feeding...> I know that such a surface film probably isn't good as I imagine it might hinder gaseous exchange at the surface. To remove it, I've tried: * Skimming it with a dip net, from standard mesh all the way down to a dense brine shrimp net. * Directing a power head to "break" the surface of the water. This will clear a spot where the turbulence is, but the "dust" just forms up everywhere else. * "Mopping" the surface with a wad of filter floss. * Ditto with a piece of clean paper towel. <How about a pitcher dipped in at an angle? Have you been to Eheim's site? (Link on WWM Links pages) to see their "surface skimmer" attachment? You could fashion one of these...> None of that seems to have had any effect. My tank is a 55 gallon "half hex" with built in overflow. The overflow/sump is also covered in this stuff, and it doesn't seem to get sucked out of the main tank via the overflow. The three fish seem to care less, but I just don't want this stuff floating in my tank. Any suggestions to get rid of it? OK, just one more quickie... I got a lovely Sinularia finger coral (that's probably spelled wrong). <No, correct for this genus of Soft Coral> It was "off white" in color when I got it, maybe just a slight beige color to it. Since placing it 13 days ago, it has darkened up considerably. It's my first coral. Polyps extended a great deal of the time, and though he "deflates" a bit at times, for the most part he appears very healthy and happy. Is this darkening just more photosynthetic algae growing, or something of concern? <A sign of good, improving health> Thanks, again. Jay T. <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Canister filters/lights I have a 100 gallon acrylic tank and I want to keep invertebrates including corals as well as fish (24 inches deep). 1) If I get a canister filter with a gph of 350, will it be enough for butterflies/other not-so-hardy fish and invertebrates? If this isn't enough filtration (along with 60 lbs of live rock) how many gph will I need to accomplish my goals? I have a large Berlin Classic skimmer (500 gph). <Maybe... is about all anyone could state... I would have more filtration (perhaps a couple of good sized outside hang-on filters) as "redundant" back-up... just in case the canister quits, gets clogged... and more aeration, circulation... provided by??? Powerheads, small submersible pumps... and only try some of the hardier Butterflyfishes after this system had been going a few months...> 2) Among the major filter makers (Filstar, Eheim, Fluval, etc.), what is the best brand in your opinion for my situation? I can't distinguish much difference between these three in particular. <No doubt here, the Eheim line is vastly superior... Longest lasting, least cost per gallon filtered, don't even fool with these others> 3) I have also decided on 400 watts of compact fluorescents. What do you think about this overall setup? Is it good enough for most specimens that don't need intensive lighting? <Well, as you hint, the depth is a bit problematical, but do think you have an apparent good grasp of things... and the set-up sounds "so far, so good"...> You the man Bob!! Thanks for all you do!! I can hardly wait to get the new book, it's already ordered. Living Large in the City of Lost Wages, David Dowless <Fabulous! Thank you for your kind words. Be seeing you. Bob Fenner>

Water changes I am in the process of setting up a 200 gal. reef tank. I am currently reading everything I can about the subject in hopes that I can avoid a few pitfalls.  <Good idea> I live in south FL and came across a company named Sea Visions which is located here. They manufacture a device called a Daily Seas. <More like Dialyseas... a pun/take off on the practice of cleansing the blood of folks with less than efficient kidney function> The best I can gather is this thing automatically keep a tanks waters parameters in near perfect condition with a min. of maintenance by the use of a kidney filter. This doohickey is very expensive ($2500 - that's right two thousand five hundred not two hundred fifty). I have yet to see or read of anyone on the net that has tried this thing and wonder if you have heard of it or know anyone that is using one.  <Have heard of it, its use, never seen one in first person.... Used to be advertised in some of the hobby mag.s...> If the thing is as great as they claim I would not mind putting things on hold and selling my first born to get one, esp. if it eliminates maintenance to the point of only cleaning the inside of the tank. If you are interested - the company's web sight is seavisions.com. I would much appreciate an unbiased expert opinion. thanks John Jensen <Keep your first born... There are sufficient better modes to go that are just as satisfying, functional, safe, fun and way less money... and do keep that curious, investigative and yes, somewhat cynical mind at work here... Read on, especially the listservs/other hobbyists REAL use of various technologies, and peruse the site: www.wetwebmedia.com for as much of my blather as you can stand. Bob Fenner>

More questions Dear Bob,  I have been saving up questions for awhile, now. I wrote you with a description of my 180 gallon tank, so hopefully you will remember the description.  <I barely remember where I've placed my keys...> After a 11 months of perfect water, my nitrates recently shot up to .4 and my ph is between .0 and .2. <What? What units? You mean 8.0 and 8.2 for pH I take it...> I do not currently test for calcium or alkalinity. I currently use sponge filters in my overflows and one in my sump. How often should I rinse them and is it possible that they could be a source of nitrates?  <Maybe once a week for the rinse,,, unless they're obviously filthy before than... and yes to their being a real source of nitrates if the latter is so...> I have also added a poly-filter in my sump per your suggestion to another Q & A, and was wondering how often I should rinse it out (the manufacturer says nothing about replacing it, just that you can re-use it).  <If it is changing color much,,,, do replace/recharge it... if not, really about once a month... unless you are specifically removing a contaminant,,, like a metal-based "medication"> I am adding carbon which the manufacturer says to take out after 3 days, and you say to change out once per month. Who wins?  <For function's sake the carbon Is "used up" minutes to hours after introduction... but does continue to serve an ancillary purpose as a mechanical and biological filter media....I would/do stick with my "once a month" or so, rule of thumb...as there are benefits to not removing totally all that carbon can remove on a continuous basis> I have had a small bloom of brown algae in the tank, not slimy, but kind of plate-like, similar in construct to coralline algae. It is quite ugly. I also have had a recent bloom of an encrusting though not calcareous looking, beautiful maroon algae (or sponge for all I know). Should I be alarmed by this? All of my tank inhabitants appear very healthy. <I don't think these are desirable forms... and would encourage you to siphon out the bits you can, direct water flow to these areas, clean your skimmer contact chamber to enhance function, and possibly add some purposeful macro-algae to this system to compete with these noisome forms for light and nutrient... they are likely BGA, Blue Green Algae/Cyanobacteria...>  I changed the air flow tube to my skimmer two weeks ago because it had a leak and am assuming that the nitrate build-up is mostly due to my skimmer not working properly for probably 2 or 3 weeks (possibly longer). I change 5 gallons of my water weekly. My skimmer has also never been a dry accumulator of waste--is that bad? <Not necessarily... generally, "drier is better"... but not always possible/achievable> One last question, my dragonet is recently added, and realizing that it eats very small crustaceans and also that I have several hundred baby feather dusters in the substrate, should I not vacuum out the gravel anymore and rely on a turkey baster to raise detritus into the water? Thanks again for your help. You are the man. Sincerely, Sean Murphy >> <No to discontinuing the occasional/regular vacuuming... just do a third per maintenance interval... Bob Fenner>

8watt UV Aquanetics Hi Bob Thanks for your great advise. I have a 55 reef and fish tank. The tank has a 8watt UV Aquanetics and a home made skimmer very well. I would like to know if i can buy a Coralife ozonizer 50 or 100 better than the UV. And if I buy the ozonizer, should I remove the UV. The ozonizer is going to be plugged in the skimmer which has a hose for it. Last question. I have 2 48" day light and 2 actinis 55 watts. Can i have them for a time about 1 mor year or should i change for the PC lighting 48" 220 watts.... Thanks from your all morning advise. William from PR.  >> Hope I understand you here. The larger/model ozonizer would be better, and not too big to have on your size/type system. I would run it in addition to your UV and into the skimmer as you mention. The lighting you have is fine, the PC (Power Compact) would be better... If your lamps are near a year old.... they need replacing. Bob Fenner Question: Love your column. Starting over with a 75 gal tank. I have most of the live rock and it is in beautiful condition. My question has to do with the Berlin Method.Can you recommend a protein skimmer, and pump if needed? I would like to stock the tank with a few anemones, 7-8 fish etc. Second question, can you suggest an easy way to make a sump and what type of pump(s), skimmer boxes, etc., do you suggest for such a set up? Bob's Answer: I like the "needle wheel" type of skimmers at the time (they are about the most efficient and require less pumping then the excellent down-draft approaches, exemplified by ETS). My favorite make/model are the Euro-Reef (and knock offs) powered by Eheim pump/motors. A sump, a sump, my kingdom for a sump! To make your own? If space permits utilize a pre-made chemically inert container of maximum size. I like the polyethylene tubs that Rubber Maid manufactures for many applications. These have flat surfaces that are easy to cut holes in to insert thru-hull fittings (aka gas-jet fittings for pools, spas)... Of course, glass and acrylic, even PVC sheet units are easy to fabricate with the proper tools, materials, skills, knowledge. And for the gear getting to and from the main/display tank. I'd look around in the hobby mags and visit the manuf.s web-sites. I really do like CPRs line, though. Complete, well designed/engineered and constructed.

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